What is a tennis elbow?
Lateral epicondylalgia, or more commonly known as tennis elbow, is a pain along the outside of the elbow which is normally caused by repeated gripping motions. The name suggests that it affects predominantly tennis players but in actual fact, it can also happen to people who frequently do manual labour and use power tools. Lateral epicondylalgia usually happens as a result of an overuse of the tendons which controls the movement of your fingers.
How do I know if I have lateral epicondylalgia?
Signs and symptoms of a lateral epicondylalgia may include:
- Pain around the outside of the elbow
- Pain with gripping activities
- May have some swelling
- Tenderness over the outside of the elbow
- Loss of grip strength
How is lateral epicondylalgia diagnosed and managed?
It is usually diagnosed through a physical examination carried out by a Doctor or Physiotherapist. Depending on the severity of the pain, your Doctor might order an MRI scan to ensure that there are no extensive tears or nerve damage present. However with most cases, there may not be a need for a scan to direct treatment interventions. In more painful cases, a Doctor might recommend a steroid injection to the area. Surgical interventions to repair the tendon are only warranted should there be a tear present.
How can Physiotherapy help?
The Physiotherapist will carry out an assessment of your elbow region, and this would include an assessment of the range of movements in your elbow and hand, as well as your grip strength and the flexibility of the surrounding muscles. The role of Physiotherapy is to educate how to modify certain tasks and to ensure that grip strength is maintained and kept relatively pain-free.
Treatment may include but is not limited to:
- Advise and education pertaining to your condition
- Soft tissue therapy
- Movement with mobilisation
- Heat therapy
- Dry needling
- Shockwave therapy
- Taping to offload the forearm muscles
- Movement training
- Returning to sport training
- Personalised home exercise program
- Hand Therapy